What has age to do with ability? 1

January 4, 2008

There is one persistent and overlooked problem within the academic recruiting structure - age discrimination.

My experience is not unique: I know of five other colleagues in Bristol in a similar position. I entered the profession through an unorthodox route. I left secondary modern school at the age of 15, worked in a meat- processing factory, then enlisted into the Army where I trained as an enrolled nurse and gained my O and A levels.

On leaving the Army in 1975 I trained as a secondary and further education teacher, getting a BEd in 1979, and taught for 14 years in inner-city comprehensive schools and a local prison. During this time I gained two masters degrees. In December 2000 I was awarded a doctorate by The Open University.

Since that time I have had three short-term research posts, all part-time. The last ended on December 31.

In 2007, I had three papers published and presented two papers at learned conferences. Indeed, I am producing my best work at the age of 60. I am passionate about my research and teaching but due to my age it is assumed I am past it.

I wish all those who may have read and rejected my 100 applications since 2001 a joyous and prosperous New Year. As for me, I will be at my part- time job as a hospital cleaner; the income from this finances the ongoing research I am still passionate about.

John Black
Henleaze, Bristol.

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